20 Best Golf Courses in Scotland: Complete List 2023

by Alvin Daniel
Best Golf Courses in Scotland

Scotland is widely recognized as one of the top golf destinations in the world, with some of the most spectacular courses and landscapes imaginable. With such a wide variety of courses, from challenging links courses to rolling parkland, there’s something for every golfer. From St Andrews to Royal Dornoch, below you’ll find our complete list of the 20 best golf courses in Scotland for 2023, as well as a comprehensive overview of each one.

 

Andrews – Old Course

Andrews - Old Course

Andrews – Old Course

The Old Course at St. Andrews is renowned as the most famous golf course in the world. Its historic layout features seven double greens, making it a unique challenge for players. With just two short holes and two par-5s, it offers a highly playable experience for golfers of all levels. The course is steeped in rich tradition, boasting the iconic landmarks of the Home End, Road Hole, and the Swilcan Bridge. As one of the oldest golf courses globally, it holds a special place in the hearts of golf enthusiasts worldwide.

One of the defining features of the Old Course at St. Andrews is its extraordinary and interesting greens. The fast and undulating putting surfaces present a test of skill and strategy for golfers. Despite their quickness, the greens are fair and provide an engaging playing experience. Additionally, the course challenges players with its strategically-placed bunkers, which can prove problematic for those who stray off course. Overall, the Old Course at St. Andrews stands as the revered home of golf, offering a truly memorable and enriching golfing experience for players from around the globe.

Location: W Sands Rd, St Andrews KY16 9XL, United Kingdom

 

Muirfield

Muirfield - perfect links course

Muirfield – perfect links course

Muirfield, known as a perfect links course, is a world-renowned golfing destination. With its exceptional stretch of terrain and hosting The Open Championship on sixteen occasions, it has secured its place in golfing history. The layout, consisting of two loops, offers a unique challenge for golfers. The front nine follows a clockwise path around the outside, while the back nine sits in the center. As the world’s oldest golf club, Muirfield’s rich heritage is evident throughout the course.

The course demands strategic thinking and adaptability to ensure that the wind hits players from all directions. The fairways, adorned with lovely spongy seaside turf, further contribute to the course’s allure. Spanning 7245 yards with a par of 71, it offers a formidable test for even the most skilled golfers. Additionally, the relatively small greens and the presence of small and deep bunkers add an element of precision to every shot. With its combination of history, challenging layout, and breathtaking scenery, Muirfield continues to captivate golfers from around the world.

Location: Muirfield, Duncur Rd, Gullane EH31 2EG, United Kingdom

 

Trump Turnberry – Ailsa

Ailsa at Trump Turnberry

Ailsa at Trump Turnberry

The Ailsa course, situated at the Turnberry Resort, has established itself as a beloved venue despite hosting only four Opens. Revered for its breathtaking scenery, this golf course commands a majestic view of the small granite island of Ailsa Craig, with the Mull of Kintyre and the Isle of Arran forming the picturesque backdrop. Its ideal location creates the perfect setting for a fulfilling round of golf.

Renowned for its challenging layout, the Ailsa course exemplifies the essence of links golf, steeped in history and tradition. Notably, the 9th and 10th holes take center stage surrounding the iconic Lighthouse, leaving a lasting impression on players. The course offers a remarkable fusion of quality and variety, with greens featuring natural humps and slopes. Furthermore, the abundance of elevated greens adds an extra layer of intrigue, ensuring an engaging experience for golfers of all skill levels.

Location: Turnberry, Girvan KA26 9LS, United Kingdom

 

Royal Dornoch Championship Links Course

Royal Dornoch Championship Links Course

Royal Dornoch Championship Links Course

Royal Dornoch stands out as a destination of unparalleled beauty and rich history. Renowned philanthropist and industrialist Andrew Carnegie once eloquently declared, “If there is heaven on earth, it is here.” This classic yet timeless links course offers panoramic views that capture the essence of natural splendor. With its wild and isolated location, Royal Dornoch boasts a pure white sandy beach that adds to its allure. The greens, meticulously designed and expertly maintained, provide an extraordinary golfing experience. Hole after hole, this remarkable course presents unique challenges that test golfers of all skill levels. Among the memorable holes, the 4th stands out as one of three excellent par fours in a row, capturing attention right from the tee. Additionally, the 14th, aptly named “Foxy,” is a long par four that showcases simplicity and the beauty of nature.

Throughout a round at Royal Dornoch, players encounter breezy and fast conditions, adding an extra layer of challenge to their game. The course’s strong bunkers strategically placed throughout demand strategic prowess and precision. While the greens and fairways were slightly softer than mid-summer, they still exuded a lush greenness that enhanced the overall experience. 

Location: Royal Dornoch Club Golf, Golf Rd, Dornoch IV25 3LW, United Kingdom

 

Carnoustie Golf Links – Championship

Carnoustie Golf Links - Championship

Carnoustie Golf Links – Championship

Carnoustie Golf Links is one of the most challenging and prestigious golf destinations in Scotland. Situated on a stunning natural seaside setting, this iconic course offers a thrilling and engaging experience for avid golfers. With the main A930 road passing through the town, access to Carnoustie is convenient for both locals and visitors.

With its formidable bunkers, including the famous Barry Burn snaking through the fairways, Carnoustie presents an incredibly tough test for golfers of all skill levels. Known for its length and difficulty, this 6948-yard course has a par of 72, demanding precision and strategy from players. Carnoustie has also gained recognition as a host of major championships, including the Open Championship and Women’s Open. In 2024, it will proudly welcome the Senior Open presented by Rolex, cementing its status as a world-class golfing destination.

Location: Links House, Links Parade, Carnoustie DD7 7JE, United Kingdom

 

Kingsbarns

Kingsbarns

Kingsbarns

Kingsbarns is a modern links course that perfectly utilizes its 2 km of sea frontage. The course boasts generous fairways and gathering greens, providing a challenging yet fair experience for golfers. One of the notable features of Kingsbarns is the captivating 12th and 13th holes, which follow the shoreline closely, creating a stunning visual along with the golfing challenge. The clubhouse, decorated with wood paneling and adorned with oil paintings, offers a spacious and well-appointed setting for golfers to relax and enjoy their time off the course. 

The overall layout of the course, with its land movement and relatively wide holes, provides a very pleasant walk for players, making Kingsbarns an exceptional destination for golf enthusiasts.In addition to its scenic beauty and top-notch facilities, Kingsbarns has gained recognition as a host venue for the 2017 Women’s British Open. This prestigious event showcased the excellence and caliber of Kingsbarns, further establishing its reputation as a top-tier golfing destination. 

Location: Back Stile, Kingsbarns, St Andrews KY16 8QD, United Kingdom

 

Castle Highland (Castle Stuart)

Castle Highland (Castle Stuart)

Castle Highland (Castle Stuart)

Castle Stuart, a renowned golf destination, has been the proud host of the Scottish Open on four occasions. This modern golf course offers a unique twist on the traditional links experience and captivates players with its breathtaking views overlooking the Black Isle. With three holes on each nine meandering along the edge of a raised beach, Castle Stuart provides an engaging journey for golfers as they traverse the picturesque Moray Firth and admire the captivating vistas across the water. The beautifully designed fairways cascade from the cliffside down to the greens, showcasing clever mounding and expansive, wild-looking waste bunker areas that beautifully frame the sand-capped fairways and green sites.

Featuring wide fairways and sizable greens, Castle Stuart presents an inviting playing field that excites golfers of all skill levels. Every hole offers an opportunity to create lasting memories, with numerous standout shots and distinctive challenges peppered throughout the course. Whether it’s navigating the strategic bunkering or embracing the stunning natural surroundings, Castle Stuart promises an extraordinary golfing experience that will delight enthusiasts and professionals alike.

Location: Inverness IV2 7JL, United Kingdom

 

Trump International Golf Links Scotland

Trump International Golf Links Scotland

Trump International Golf Links Scotland

Located on the coast north of Aberdeen, Trump International Golf Links Scotland is renowned as one of the very best coastal courses in the country. With a jaw-dropping layout set against the backdrop of mountainous grass-topped hills, this golf course offers breathtaking views of the North Sea and the pristine beaches that stretch for miles. The signature hole, the 14th, captures the essence of this American-inspired course, featuring bent and fescue grass greens that add to the allure of the surroundings.

A round of golf at Trump International Golf Links Scotland is a true indulgence in nature’s beauty and an ultimate test of skill. With at least five tee boxes on every hole, players have the option to tailor the game to their ability and experience the challenges presented by the huge dunes and the Eolic water park. While the course may appear daunting and tight at first, the fairways are surprisingly generous, offering a fair and engaging opportunity to navigate the course. 

Location: Balmedie, Aberdeen AB23 8YE, United Kingdom

 

Royal Aberdeen Golf Club – Balgownie

Royal Aberdeen Golf Club - Balgownie

Royal Aberdeen Golf Club – Balgownie

Royal Aberdeen Golf Club is renowned for its truest linksland layouts in the world of golf. Nestled along the picturesque shores of the North Sea, this historic club offers a captivating golfing experience like no other. With 400 years of rich history, Royal Aberdeen preserves the natural beauty of its ecosystem, presenting golfers with narrow and rumpled fairways, sloping greens, and large greens that truly test their skills. The front nine holes offer a formidable challenge, while the back nine holes elevate the difficulty even further, featuring blind tee shots that push golfers to their limits.

As you walk into the pro shop, you’ll feel the air of tradition and excellence that permeates throughout Royal Aberdeen Golf Club. The club’s commitment to providing a professional and engaging experience is evident in the meticulously maintained turf and tight rolling fairways. 

Location: Links Rd, Bridge of Don, Aberdeen AB23 8AT, United Kingdom

 

Blairgowrie Golf Club- Rosemount

Blairgowrie Golf Club - Rosemount

Blairgowrie Golf Club – Rosemount

Rosemount at Blairgowrie Golf Club is a charming course nestled at the foot of the Grampian Mountains. The course features a wonderful blend of pine, birch, and heather, providing a stunning natural backdrop. As one of Scotland’s top-ranked courses, Rosemount consistently delivers a memorable golfing experience. The course boasts heathland layouts, including the famous Rosemount, Lansdowne, and the Wee Course.

Rosemount is renowned for its tree-lined fairways, creating an engaging and picturesque setting for golfers. The fairways themselves are thoughtfully designed, providing a fair and inviting challenge to all skill levels. With its fast-running sandy soil, Rosemount offers a unique playing experience that rewards strategic shot placement and precision. To add to its allure, Rosemount showcases a stunning 17th hole known as “Plateau,” which further enhances the course’s timeless appeal.

Location: Golf Course Rd, Blairgowrie PH10 6LG, United Kingdom

 

Dumbarnie Links

Dumbarnie Links

Dumbarnie Links

Dumbarnie Links, conceived by Clive Clark, a former Ryder Cup player, is a golf course that captivates both the eye and the spirit. It boasts an exquisite clubhouse perched elegantly along the coastline, offering panoramic views of the sprawling Firth of Forth. The design seamlessly combines classic links courses with modern touches, crafting a tapestry of holes that effortlessly meander through the undulating dunes. With beach and water frontage, Dumbarnie Links offers a unique golfing experience that embraces the natural beauty of its surroundings.

The allure of Dumbarnie Links lies not only in its stunning vistas but also in the diversity of its holes. Ranging from 5,300 to 6,900 yards, the course presents a challenge for golfers of all skill levels. Its dual elevations and the clever weaving in and out of the dunes create an exceptional spectacle that leaves a lasting impression. Steeped in history, Dumbarnie Links also hosted the 1860 Open Championship, further cementing its position as a pivotal location in the world of golf. 

Location: A917, Leven KY8 6JQ, United Kingdom

 

Nairn Golf Club – Championship

Nairn Golf Club - Championship

Nairn Golf Club – Championship

Nairn Golf Club, located on the picturesque Moray Firth coastline near the historic fishing port, offers an exceptional golfing experience. The course features a superb link layout and is known for its challenging design. With the sea coming into play on six of the first seven holes, golfers are treated to stunning views while navigating through fast and narrow fairways, gorse bushes, and heather. The course has hosted prestigious tournaments, including the 1999 Walker Cup and the 2012 Curtis Cup, showcasing its reputation as a top-notch venue for competitive golf.

Nairn Golf Club is not only a visually delightful course but also a thinker’s course. It boasts testing greens and strategically placed run-off areas, demanding careful shot placement and precise execution. The holes present various challenges, with most playing along the Firth in either direction. One of the standout holes is the 5th, affectionately called “Nets.” This hole features a small, elevated green, well-guarded bunkers and a sharp bank sloping off to the right. 

Location: Seabank Rd, Nairn IV12 4HB, United Kingdom

 

Royal Troon – Old

Royal Troon - Old

Royal Troon – Old

The Old Course at Royal Troon, host to the Open Championship on eight occasions, stands as a true symbol of golfing excellence. As you venture from the clubhouse, the vast skies above amplify the sense of anticipation that fills the air. One cannot help but marvel at the iconic “Postage Stamp” 8th hole, renowned for its size and challenge. The back nine, played against the relentless wind, poses a formidable test of skill and endurance. With the front nine leading you on an immersive journey through the course’s intriguing loop, spanning an impressive 7,208 yards, the Old Course at Royal Troon truly encapsulates the essence of a pure links experience.

Immersed in this golfing paradise, golfers encounter an abundance of bunkers strategically scattered throughout the course. The meticulous design ensures that deep rough poses an ever-present threat, adding an element of excitement and challenge to each shot.

Location: Craigend Rd, Troon KA10 6EP, United Kingdom

 

North Berwick West Links Course

North Berwick West Links Course

North Berwick West Links Course

The North Berwick West Links Course is an exceptional golfing destination situated on the picturesque Firth of Forth coast in East Lothian. With its stunning sea views across Craigleith Island and Bass Rock, this course offers players a truly mesmerizing backdrop while they enjoy a round of golf. The 13th to 15th stretch has gained world-renowned fame, attracting golf enthusiasts from all corners of the globe. Additionally, golfers can appreciate the impressive Bass Rock, a notable volcanic formation and the closest seabird sanctuary to the mainland.

One of the remarkable features of the North Berwick West Links Course is the strategic placement of walls within the fairways and in front of greens, adding an engaging challenge to each hole. Despite its demanding nature, this course strikes the perfect balance by providing players with a fair and enjoyable experience, ensuring they are not unduly punished by penal rough.

Location: New Club House, Beach Rd, North Berwick EH39 4BB, United Kingdom

 

Prestwick 

Prestwick

Prestwick

Prestwick Golf Club, located approximately 30 miles southwest of Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow, offers a classic links course experience that is rich in history and challenges. Nestled near the Prestwick airport, this course sits on rolling sandy land between the beach and the hinterland, providing a picturesque setting for golf enthusiasts.

Packed with blind shots, desert-sized bunkering, and rollercoaster greens, Prestwick has been the birthplace of The Open Championship, hosting the prestigious event a remarkable 24 times. Adorned with cavernous sleeper bunkers featuring wooden steps, it’s clear that every detail of this course has been meticulously crafted. The third hole, known as the ‘Cardinal,’ is particularly famous, featuring a par 5 with a dogleg right where the land dramatically descends into a vast, deep bunker. With greens notoriously firm and fast, some hidden in hollows, a round at Prestwick offers a challenge that both professional and amateur golfers can appreciate.

Location: 2-4 Links Rd, Prestwick KA9 1QH, UK

 

Cruden Bay Golf Club

Cruden Bay Golf Club

Cruden Bay Golf Club

Cruden Bay Golf Club, located in the picturesque backdrop of the steely North Sea, offers a truly engaging and commanding layout. The rugged linksland, with its burns, bunkers, and bumps, takes full advantage of the original lie of the land, creating a challenging and captivating golfing experience. As you navigate this traditional links course, the twist of elevation changes and dunes adds to the allure, providing both a challenging round of golf and panoramic views of the surrounding scenery.

At Cruden Bay Golf Club, the stunning natural landscape is complemented by the luxurious accommodations in the form of “the Palace in the Sandhills.” The pink granite used to construct this three-story hotel blends seamlessly with the sand dunes, further enhancing the club’s strong heritage. From elevated tees to hollowed fairways, every hole offers a unique and memorable experience for golf enthusiasts. It is no wonder that Cruden Bay Golf Club is renowned for its rich history, breathtaking vistas, and impeccable playability, making it a must-visit destination for avid golfers seeking a world-class golfing experience.

Location: Alton Rd, Cruden Bay, Peterhead AB42 0NN, United Kingdom

 

Ardfin

Ardfin

Ardfin

Ardfin offers a unique and captivating experience nestled in the rugged Jura shoreline. The natural landscape, sculpted into the rugged shoreline, surrounds the island’s southern tip. As you navigate through the course, you are greeted by the striking rugged landscape of peat and rocks, creating a truly mesmerizing backdrop.

The course itself presents a formidable challenge, with the first 11 holes played on the western stretch, winding along the dramatic cliffs of Ardfin. As players make their way along this scenic route, the grandeur of Jura House stands tall, adding an air of elegance and prestige to the course. The wind, known for its strength, adds an additional layer of difficulty, making the course extremely tough yet equally rewarding. With each step, golfers are treated to the most fabulous walk amidst nature’s awe-inspiring beauty. The whole course is a testament to its wild surroundings, with narrow greens and strategically placed bunkers demanding precision and accuracy. 

Location: The Long Road, Isle of Jura PA60 7XY, United Kingdom

 

Machrihanish Golf Club

Machrihanish Golf Club

Machrihanish Golf Club

Machrihanish Golf Club is a links course that exhibits a magical allure and a captivating front nine. The course boasts one of the most iconic opening holes, where players can experience the thrill of driving off a beach, offering breathtaking views of the Hebrides. The greens at Machrihanish are known for being firm, fast, and true, providing a challenging yet rewarding putting experience. Despite not being particularly long, the course guarantees sheer fun for golf enthusiasts of all skill levels.

The first hole at Machrihanish, aptly named “Battery,” is widely regarded as one of the best opening holes in golf. The fairway follows the beach closely, adding an extra element of excitement and risk. As players navigate through the undulating and rippling fairways, they are treated to splendid sea views and encounter blind tee shots that demand both precision and strategy. The expansive sky and dramatic sunsets create a truly mesmerizing backdrop for golfers, all while enjoying the warm air courtesy of the Gulf Stream. 

Location: Golf Club House, Machrihanish PA28 6PT, United Kingdom

 

Queen’s at Gleneagles Golf Club

Queen’s at Gleneagles Golf Club

Queen’s at Gleneagles Golf Club

Located at Gleneagles Golf Club, the Queen’s course offers a picturesque and engaging experience for golf enthusiasts. With its gorgeous layout and charming woodland surroundings, players are treated to stunning views of beautiful rolling hills and forests. The course itself is reminiscent of an “inland links,” with springy fairways and greens that are true and ideal for a satisfying game. Although a relatively short course, Queen’s at Gleneagles Golf Club provides a delightful challenge that is both sweet and delicate, leaving players captivated by its stunning beauty.

Set amidst undulating moorland, Queen’s at Gleneagles Golf Club has recently introduced more heather to further enhance the aesthetic appeal of the course. This addition brings a touch of natural beauty and enhances the overall ambiance of the course. The combination of the captivating landscape, meticulously maintained fairways, and the introduction of more heather showcases the club’s commitment to providing an exceptional golfing experience at Gleneagles Golf Club’s Queen’s course.

Location: Gleneagles, Auchterarder PH3 1PJ, United Kingdom

 

Western Gailes

Western Gailes

Western Gailes

Located between the picturesque railway and the serene sea, Western Gailes boasts some of the purest golfing terrain one could ever find. This renowned golf course is a sight to behold, with its numerous bunkers that add a touch of challenge and excitement to every game. The raw and exhilarating course offers an experience like no other, where players can fully immerse themselves in the game amidst the wooden doors of the lockers.

The fast, firm, and subtly contoured fairways and greens provide a true testament to the essence of Scottish links golf. At Western Gailes, every swing and putt are expertly tested by the two key defenses – the wind and the rough. Nestled snugly between Irvine Bay and the railway tracks, this narrow strip of links land offers a delightful challenge to golfers of all skill levels. With the first four holes running parallel to the railway tracks, players are welcomed into a world of golfing excellence on this thin strip of land. 

Location: Gailes Rd, Irvine KA11 5AE, United Kingdom

 

Conclusion

Our list of the 20 best golf courses in Scotland includes facilities from all parts of the country and offers an extensive range of playing styles, difficulty levels, and settings. From high-end championship courses to challenging links-style layouts, Scotland is a golfer’s paradise that caters to every type of golfer. Whether you are looking for a unique golfing experience or a challenging and scenic round, you are sure to find one that suits your preferences. So don’t wait – get ready for an unforgettable golfing adventure in Scotland!

 

Author

  • Alvin Daniel

    Hello everyone, I'm Alvin Daniel. I was born in the Philippines and came to the United States when I was 16 years old. I started playing golf at that age and have loved it ever since. I turned professional when I was 21 and have been working as a golf instructor and guide ever since. My goal is to help everyone know more about this great game of golf. And, hopefully, through my instruction, they can improve their skills and enjoy the game even more.

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